Ronda Rousey and Liz Carmouche stepped into the first women’s bout in the Octagon at UFC 157 on Saturday night at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. On the other side of the country, Danica Patrick on Sunday becomes the first woman to start in the pole position in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the prestigious Daytona 500.
This is a historical weekend for women in sports, regardless of the outcome at either event.
We don’t know how Patrick will do in Sunday’s race yet, but we certainly know how Rousey vs. Carmouche turned out.
In the end, Ronda Rousey did what she does best, finished the fight with a first-round armbar. That makes her seven out of seven professional fights finished in the first round and by armbar.
That’s not to say that it was easy. It was the toughest fight that Rousey has ever had.
Rousey stormed Carmouche from the bell, using her punches to get into a clinch and take her to the mat, as most everyone expected.
What everyone didn’t expect was Carmouche taking Rousey’s back and maintaining that position as Rousey returned to her feet. Carmouche went for the rear naked choke, couldn’t quite get it, but locked her arms across Rousey’s face, cranking it for all she was worth.
But just when it looked like Rousey might have to relent for the first time in her career, she found a way to shake Carmouche off.
“I was trying to worry about her on my back and my bra falling down at the same time,” said Rousey, trying to avoid a wardrobe malfunction.
Rousey spun past Carmouche’s guard, landing in side control with a side headlock, pummeling away at Carmouche’s face for the better part of the last half of the round.
Carmouche tried to throw her legs up over Rousey’s back, but Rousey seized he opportunity to swing into an armbar attempt. Carmouche defended well, but with just under a minute left in the round, Rousey is so adept at the armbar that she had time to adjust her position and eventually break Carmouche’s arm free.
From there it took only moments to extend the arm and force Carmouche to tap out, just like every other mixed martial arts opponent the former Olympian has faced.
“Is this real life right now? I’m not sure,” Rousey quipped after the fight, finally cementing her right to the UFC women’s bantamweight championship belt that she was hesitant to hold prior to the fight.
Rousey survived not only Carmouche in winning the fight, she survived a surreal amount of media attention and a mountain of criticism.
“It was different,” she said of all the attention leading up to the fight, “but there is no amount of press that can save these girls from me.”